Grinch at Large: The Worst Apple Store Experience Ever

Does It Take a Genius to Keep a Customer Happy?

The mostly empty Apple Fifth Ave. store on Dec. 23

By Jonathan Spira on 3 January 2017
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Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, who previously ran Burberry, has said that the company wants its in-store experience to be more about enriching the lives of its customers than simply selling them things.

If indeed that is the case, the company may still have a long way to go as a recent visit to one of its most notable Apple stores, the Fifth Avenue location, revealed.

Expecting crowds the night before Christmas Eve, Apple had set up what effectively looked like pens to funnel its customers into. The store, however, while usually bustling at 10 p.m. (it’s open 24 hours a day), was almost devoid of customers. Yet the pens remained and there was a designated employee tasked to steer customers into them.

Apple follows a customer service model it borrowed and adapted from hotelier Ritz-Carlton: Steps of Service. The Cupertino-based company trains every store employee to walk customers through five steps (which may be represented by the acronym APPLE). Simply put, the steps (as documented in a leaked Apple training manual) are

  • Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome
  • Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
  • End with a fond farewell

Essentially, Apple wants people to feel welcome and good about their visit to an Apple store, just like Ritz-Carlton wants its guests to have similar feelings about their visits.

In general, these practices work well (I’ve only had one mediocre Apple store experience compared to perhaps over 100 that were excellent) but apparently when they fail, they fail miserably.

Click here to continue to Page 2‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve….

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